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updated: 8/30/2013 2:47 PM

Downers Grove murder suspect on 911 call: 'I shot my mom'

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  • Michael Zaky Bassaly

      Michael Zaky Bassaly

  • Video: Bob Berlin Press conference

 

A Downers Grove man made a frantic 911 call and repeatedly confessed to killing his mother moments after he shot her in a Burr Ridge church parking lot, authorities said Friday.

"I shot my mom. I shot her in the brains," Michael Zaky Bassaly, 27, told a dispatcher. "Can you come, please, please, please?"

Prosecutors played a recording of the call at a bond hearing in DuPage County court. On the 4-minute clip, Zaky Bassaly is sobbing hysterically. His mother, Yvonne Zaky Bassaly, 61, can be heard in the background struggling to breathe.

"I don't know if she's alive or not," Zaky Bassaly said, giving his location at St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church. "She made me do it. She wanted me to do it."

Authorities said the defendant, an Egyptian immigrant, had come under investigation two days earlier by the Department of Homeland Security for fraud related to government asylum applications.

He's accused of shooting his mother once in the head about 1 a.m. Thursday. Police found her in the back seat of a parked 2005 Cadillac. She was pronounced dead within the hour.

On the dashboard of the car, detectives found a sealed envelope with letters addressed to the FBI in which Zaky Bassaly said he killed his mother "to protect her from the result of the investigation" and planned to take his own life.

"I had no choice but to kill her to protect her," he wrote, according to prosecutors.

He later directed investigators to his home. There, police found copier machines, passports, checks, business cards and letterheads falsely identifying him as a lawyer, authorities said.

Prosecutors said the victim had been visiting from Florida and may have believed her son was a recent graduate of Loyola University. An uncle told investigators family members thought Zaky Bassaly had been in college for nine years and was working at a law firm, Assistant State's Attorney Anne Therieau said in court.

In a police interview, Zaky Bassaly said he planned to commit suicide because of the investigation and that his mother wanted to die with him. Prosecutors said he told detectives they drove to the church parking lot to pray. At another point, he claimed the gun "went off," they said.

Defense attorney Marc Wolfe said the conflicting statements, paired with his client's "emotional outcry" on the 911 call, suggested the information was less than reliable.

Wolfe said he believes the victim killed herself while her son tried to stop her.

"He made the 911 call," Wolfe said. "He's basically the one that brought police to St. Mark's Church -- nobody else."

Wolfe, whose client was denied bond by Judge Daniel Guerin, described Zaky Bassaly as a full-time interpreter "well-respected" in his community. He called the death a "terrible accident."

Zaky Bassaly appeared in court wearing a yellow jail outfit for detainees on suicide watch. With his hands shackled in front of him, he looked down and did not speak as prosecutors played the 911 call.

"This was a premeditated murder," State's Attorney Bob Berlin said. "This was carefully planned out by the defendant. And, as he stated, he killed his mother to protect her from the investigation. He was afraid of what was going to happen to her."

Zaky Bassaly could face natural life in prison if convicted as charged.

Arraignment is set for Sept. 9.

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